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Iceland prepares for World Without Oil

Iceland is already preparing for the day when petroleum production ceases and the planet needs an alternative power source. The tiny island is switching to hydrogen, the most plentiful element in the universe. Prof. Bragi Arnason is the visionary behind Iceland's recent declaration that it will become the first country to eradicate oil from its economy. Icelanders figure that by 2030, all of their cars, buses, ships and airplanes will run on hydrogen.
A world without oil

Iceland is already preparing for the day when
petroleum production ceases and the planet needs
an alternative power source. The tiny island is
switching to hydrogen, the most plentiful element
in the universe. ALANNA MITCHELL reports

Saturday, December 7, 2002 - Page F7
 link to www.theglobeandmail.com

REYKJAVIK -- The contraption sitting in Bragi Arnason's chemistry lab doesn't look like much. There's a battered orange desk lamp meant to represent the sun. Next to it, a clear hose runs through an electrolyzer that resembles a science-fair project.

Prof. Arnason turns on the lamp. A few bubbles of gas trickle through the apparatus, eventually sending a dime-store fan spinning gently around. He is triumphant. He has just turned hydrogen into electricity.

"In the second half of this century, this will be the main energy source for mankind," he says, his face beaming. "It's sustainable. It's clean. All you need is water."

Prof. Arnason, who is head of chemistry at the University of Reykjavik, is the visionary behind Iceland's recent declaration that it will become the first country to eradicate oil from its economy. Icelanders figure that by 2030, all of their cars, buses, ships and airplanes will run on hydrogen.

So fine. Replacing fossil fuels may work for an odd little nation with only 280,000 souls and cars that never leave the island. But the future energy source for all humankind?

Although it may seem hard to believe as yet another oil war threatens to break out in the Middle East and as Canada lines up to vote on the Kyoto Protocol on Monday, the post-fossil-fuel era is already under way.

Politicians, economists, engineers, academics and business leaders around the world understand that oil production is slowing and will end within decades and they are planning for a world without oil. And right now, the consensus is that hydrogen -- the fuel that sent space ships to the moon and produces no climate-altering pollution -- is the likeliest replacement.

The world's automobile makers are putting prototypes of the hydrogen-powered car in their showrooms. The first wide-scale pilot project using hydrogen to fuel transport buses begins next June in 10 European cities, including Reykjavik.

In October, a hydrogen fuelling station opened in the San Francisco Bay area for the handful of experimental hydrogen vehicles in that part of the world. The group behind the plan, the California Fuel Cell Partnership, expects to have 60 fuel-cell cars and buses on the road by next year.

Prognosticators such as U.S. futurist Jeremy Rifkin, whose new book is The Hydrogen Economy (Putnam), argue that hydrogen promises to be so easy to make and so widespread that the poorest citizens in the world will eventually be able to produce as much hydrogen energy as they need in their own back yards.

"We are at the dawn of a new economy, powered by hydrogen, that will fundamentally change the nature of our market and our political and social institutions, just as coal and steam power did at the beginning of the industrial age," Mr. Rifkin wrote recently in The Guardian.

To understand how big the worldwide potential for hydrogen is, it's important to know what tiny Iceland is doing with it and how far the experiment has progressed.

But it's also important to know why Icelanders bother. Why not just go with the petroleum flow for now, like the rest of the world? To understand that is to understand Iceland.

Burrow deep into the Icelandic mindset, and you begin to see how the world could look if all oil bets were off, if the Kyoto Protocol were laughably irrelevant, the Middle East just a geographic curiosity, the climate back to normal.

You begin to see the world as Bragi Arnason does.

For Prof. Arnason, 67, the journey to hydrogen started 40 years ago on top of Iceland's biggest glacier. He was fresh from earning his PhD in chemistry and wanted to map the country's vast stores of volcanically heated underground water. The island sits on top of an underground radiator fired by heat from the Earth's crust, and steam rises constantly through fissures and faults that shift day by day. (Beneath Iceland, two of the Earth's tectonic plates are splitting apart at the rate of a couple of centimetres a year.)

But once Prof. Arnason had mapped the reserves, he realized that just a small fraction of the super-heated water was being used for energy. At the same time, because Iceland has no fossil fuels, it was importing more than 40 per cent of the energy consumed in the country -- at tremendous expense.

Icelanders are accustomed to using up what's around them -- they still have a taste for sour food (one prized dish is rotted shark), developed when their forebears did without refrigeration.

So when Prof. Arnason realized that his country wasn't using up the energy it was sitting on, he was horrified. "It is only natural to say, 'Couldn't we produce our own?' "

Today, tacked on the drab concrete walls of Prof. Arnason's office is his framed certificate as a finalist last year in the World Technology Awards for the Environment, the tech community's Oscars. He was nominated for his work on hydrogen.

The winner was Geoffrey Ballard, head of Ballard Power Systems Inc., based in Burnaby, B.C. He won the award for his advances on the hydrogen fuel cell, the technical breakthrough that allows hydrogen energy to be converted quickly and cheaply into electricity. This is what has caught the interest of the world's car makers.

The fuel cell creates an electric current through a chemical reaction, but unlike a regular battery, it doesn't wear out or need to be recharged. All it needs is a continuous supply of hydrogen because its energy is harvested from the atom itself.

Hydrogen has the simplest atomic structure of any element -- one proton and one electron. The fuel cell separates the negatively charged electrons from the positively charged protons through a process called electrolysis.

Then the protons get sucked through a membrane that won't allow the electrons through. The electrons are forced to travel through an external circuit on their way to rejoin the protons. That flow creates electricity.

In the meantime, the protons hook up with oxygen atoms in the air on the other side of the membrane. When the electrons finally join the group, the result is molecules of water made up of one oxygen atom and two complete hydrogen atoms.

The advantages to hydrogen energy are huge. For one thing, there is no combustion and therefore no pollution, no greenhouse gas emissions and no need for a Kyoto Protocol. The water produced at the end of the chemical reaction is so pure that astronauts on the space shuttles drank the water produced as waste from the liquid hydrogen fuel that powered their rockets.

As well, hydrogen is the most plentiful element in the universe. So there's lots around to harness for electricity. And because it is everywhere, no one would need to have control over the production and distribution of the world's power.

That is why Mr. Rifkin is so excited about hydrogen. He believes that it would give each of the planet's citizens equal access to power.

But if the possibilities beggar the imagination, the downsides come close to defeating it.

There are still huge logistical problems to overcome, such as figuring out how a car can hold enough hydrogen to make it run as far as on a tank of gasoline.

And if that could be worked out, there would eventually have to be an infrastructure -- maybe more hydrogen pumps like the one in California? -- to fill the cars up.

These are the problems the European Union, the United States and Japan are plowing research money into.

Beyond this is another problem: To unleash the energy contained within the atomic structure of this primordial element, you need power. That's because hydrogen atoms exist on the Earth only in combination with other substances. You have to use energy to strip hydrogen away from whatever other atom it has combined with.

As well, it takes energy to separate the hydrogen atom into electrons and protons. The long-term hopes are that new, renewable technologies will harness the power of the sun, the Earth, the wind, the rivers or the waves to create the energy needed to make hydrogen, the relatively more portable and efficient type of energy that can run cars.

The reason Icelanders think that they can convert to a hydrogen economy is that they already have plenty of cheap, renewable thermal power, just the ticket to free up all that hydrogen. Iceland can make as much hydrogen power as it needs, Prof. Arnason says.

Of course, Canada is in the same boat, flush as it is with cheap hydroelectric power and the potential for harnessing far more, he points out. "You could start the transformation," he says.

Right now, the chemists in Prof. Arnason's lab are puzzling over the final details of storing enough hydrogen to run a vehicle for as long as a tank of gas. The stumbling block for them is that so far, a tank of hydrogen gas will make a car run for only about 100 to 150 kilometres. Whiel hydrogen gas would not be more expensive than gasoline, it would be less convenient.

There are rivals to hydrogen's stake as the world's next big source of energy.

British chemist Peter Rowland, after whom one of the hydrogen-producing processes is named, believes biomass fuels will eventually win the day because hydrogen is too volatile and hard to control. Biomass, including such liquid fuels as ethanol, could use the system now used for gasoline.

Still, a high-level workshop of car makers and energy experts partly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy in October, 1999, came to the conclusion that none of the barriers to a hydrogen economy is insurmountable.

The European Union, with its 360 million citizens in 15 nations, will spend more than 2 billion euros (about $3-billion) on research into sustainable energy, much of it on fuel cells over the next five years. By 2010, the EU will get 22 per cent of its electricity and 12 per cent of all energy from renewable sources, mainly hydrogen fuel cells, says Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission.

The first practical trial of hydrogen vehicles in Europe starts next June, when 30 Mercedes-Benz hydrogen buses will hit the streets of 10 cities, including Hamburg, Paris, Barcelona and Reykjavik.

German-based DaimlerChrysler is set to mass-produce hydrogen transport buses by 2005 at a cost that will rival that of diesel buses. In its fiscal year 2001, the company spent $900-million (U.S.) on research and development of fuel cell technology and vehicles that use more than one fuel.

The Japanese government is in the second phase of a 30 billion yen (roughly $360-million) project aimed at setting up the infrastructure needed to supply hydrogen to consumers, both for filling up cars and for stand-alone electricity generators.

But of all the countries, none is as far along as Iceland. It vowed to replace the Reykjavik city buses with a hydrogen-run fleet as the next phase of its transformation. Then it's on to replacing private cars and the fishing fleet. Prof. Arnason sees no reason this can't happen by 2030.

Politicians, academics and businesspeople from all over the world are showing up in Reykjavik to soak up the determination and ask for help to seize control of their own energy sources. Whenever the visitors begin to wonder whether the oil-free future is just too remote, the Icelanders send them to the Blue Lagoon spa on the southwestern peninsula.

This, too, started as a crazy dream to use up what's available and cut down on fossil fuels. It's so successful that it gives Icelanders perfect faith that they can make hydrogen work too.

The great joke is that this salty, healing spa is really the waste pit from Swartsengi, the geothermal electricity and space-heating plant that was Iceland's first energy brainchild. Swartsengi's stacks, yawning round windows and Star Wars-like architecture form a backdrop for the spa.

About 30 years ago, the Icelanders drilled a kilometre or two down to tap the hot salty water heated by the Earth's crust. It burst out at about 242 degrees Celsius.

They figured out how to strip the energy out of the water and convert it into electricity. Once they extract enough heat out of it to get its temperature down to 100 degrees, they transfer some of that heat to freshwater and run it through insulated pipes into houses and other buildings all over Iceland.

The Blue Lagoon was formed when the seawater, cooled but otherwise identical to the way it came from the Earth, was piped out the back of the plant as waste. Scientists thought that it would just quietly be absorbed back into the porous volcanic land. Instead, the minerals it contained sealed the pores and created an ever-expanding hot pool.

The Icelanders, never ones to waste an opportunity, began flocking there to bathe in the healing fluids, tinged blue because the silica in the water absorbs the colour red. The lagoon's healing powers are so well documented that both the Danish and Icelandic medical systems send people here to poach themselves in the salty fluids.

As for Swartsengi, it is one of three plants that produce enough cheap geothermal energy to heat 87 per cent of Icelandic houses and industrial plants, says Thorsteinn Jonsson, head of communications for the plant.

Energy is so plentiful that once the hot water heats up their homes, they run it underground to keep sidewalks and driveways free from snow and ice.

For all of Prof. Arnason's conviction, the brave new hydrogen economy has shades of a fairy tale: Fierce little Iceland kicking up against all the big money that has so many interests vested in keeping fossil fuels the main source of energy.

But it's not a fairy tale. Rather than trying to keep hydrogen fuel at bay the notoriously self-protective energy players and car manufacturers are buying in.

DaimlerChrysler, Shell Hydrogen and Norsk Hydro are already financial partners in Iceland's project, along with the Icelandic people themselves.

Prof. Arnason used to wonder about it. Why the interest? Why not try to shut it all down? He asked Shell. "They said: 'It's very simple. We want to be selling energy in 50 years when there's no more oil.' "

Alanna Mitchell is The Globe and Mail's earth sciences reporter.

homepage: homepage: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/PEstory/TGAM/20021207/FC7HYDR/Comment/comment/comment_temp/3/3/11/?

interesting 09.Dec.2002 00:47

off the oil

Does America have the geothermal to make it practical to do this? Maybe for part of America, or maybe if people are willing to "dig deep" then the whole world will be able to tap such resources... ah... who knows?

Power Harvests 09.Dec.2002 13:02

Janet Raloff

Power Harvests
The salvation of many U.S. farmers may be blowing in the wind
Janet Raloff

During the Vietnam War, Daniel Juhl toiled as a missile-guidance technician. But when he left the service, he says, "there wasn't a lot of call for my training. So, I thought I'd turn my spears into plowshares."

Or, to be more literal, into energy-generating wind turbines. In 1978, Juhl entered the wind-farming industry, helping design and erect small commercial systems for others—first in his home state of Minnesota, then in California, Europe, and China.

A few years ago, he decided to build and operate his own wind farm. On patches of land amounting to 6 acres, which he leased from a nearby farming family in Woodstock, Minn., he built access roads and erected 17 turbines. For the past 2 years, this operation has been generating up to 10 megawatts (MW) of electricity, depending on the winds. The local utility buys Juhl's commodity at about half of what residential customers will pay to use this electricity.

Heartened by the profitable cash flow of Juhl's operation and his turbines' low maintenance demands, the farmers from whom he leased land decided that they, too, were ready for a direct role in wind power. With Juhl's help, they're planning to install two units of their own.

Juhl expects wind turbines to be sprouting up far and wide in coming years. "Talk to some farmer for half an hour, and he'll understand what this is—just another cash crop," he says. It's not much different from reaping wheat, he notes, "except that your combines are 200 feet in the air."

Although pioneers of wind power in the mid-1970s tended to erect their wind farms on remote mountain peaks and passes, the present crop of wind advocates has begun turning to agricultural lands.

There's plenty of untapped wind to be had there. Wind mappers rank regions on their ability to produce commercially significant power using a 6-point scale. The higher the number, the greater and more reliable the wind resource. Today, "we're developing commercial wind farms in areas rated class 4 to class 6," says Greg Jaunich, president of Northern Alternative Energy in Minneapolis.

"Within 100 miles of every major metropolitan area, there's at least a class 4 wind resource," notes Jaunich. Most of these are farmed areas, which is why he and other commercial developers of environmentally attractive, or green, power have been leasing land there.

Farmers welcome the second income these offer. In Iowa, each quarter acre that a farmer makes available to a developer's turbine —often with blades spanning 150 feet—can yield royalties of about $2,000 a year, notes agricultural economist Lester R. Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Adds Brown: "In a good year, that same plot might produce $100 worth of corn."

Farmers who develop those wind resources themselves can reap far bigger bounties—up to perhaps $20,000 per turbine annually, Juhl claims.

Globally, wind generation of electricity has nearly quadrupled over the past 5 years, and in the United States, it's expected to grow 60 percent this year alone. As farmers struggle to make ends meet, "some are now finding salvation in this new 'crop,'" Brown observes. "It's like striking oil, except that the wind is never depleted."

Profitable wind power

The profitability of wind power has blossomed over the past few decades. A kilowatt-hour (kWh), the basic unit of delivered electricity, is equal to the energy consumed by a 100-watt light bulb burning for 10 hours. In the mid-1970s, commercial wind turbines cranked out electricity at 30 cents or more per kWh. That was a staggering amount, considering that coal-fired plants were generating it for about 2 cents/kWh.

Today, some wind turbines can generate power for less than 6 cents/kWh while utilities are, in some cases, charging customers more than twice that. Large wind farms sited where the air flow is reliable and strong can now produce electricity for as little as 3 cents/kWh—40 percent less than was possible with the best turbines a mere 5 years ago. For comparison, earlier this year, power-strapped California utilities were forced at times to buy electricity on the spot market for up to 33 cents/kWh.

Fifty years ago, farmers used rural windmills like that in the foreground to pump water. Today, these are giving way to behemoths (background) that pump electricity into the transmission lines powering cities.
Warren Gretz/National Renewable Energy Lab.
Compared with more traditional—and more polluting—forms of electrical generation, wind power can be competitive economically, notes energy economist Florentin Krause of the International Project for Sustainable Energy Paths in El Cerrito, Calif. "It's dirt cheap," he says.

Indeed, he's found that the cost of wind-generated electricity is now about half the cost of nuclear power if all expenses—from facilities' construction and maintenance to demolition and disposal—are taken into account.

Solar photovoltaic electricity and other types of renewable power, he observes, typically need a substantial subsidy, such as a tax break, to even come close to competing with power from fossil-fired and nuclear plants.

What's more, Krause points out, unlike large, traditional generating stations that can take years to construct, wind turbines can be erected in 3 months—and they operate without spewing the greenhouse gases that fuel global warming.

The most impressive aspect of wind power to Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association in Washington, D.C., is the magnitude of the supply. The U.S. wind-power potential, he says, "is comparable to or larger than Saudi Arabia's energy resources." In fact, Brown's research indicates that all current U.S. electricity needs could be met from wind resources in just three especially breezy states: North Dakota, Kansas, and Texas.

Embrace the wind

Even so, utilities have been slow to embrace the wind, and most farmers remain unaware of the value of the breezes rushing over their fields, notes Lisa Daniels. That's why she founded Windustry. The 6-year-old Minneapolis organization has provided state farmers and rural landowners, including Native American communities, with a nuts-and-bolts overview of wind's prospects and what it takes to harness that potential.

Livestock can safely graze next to turbines. Cows even choose frequently to rest against the turbines' support pillars.
Warren Gretz/NREL
Windustry and the American Corn Growers Association, based in Washington, D.C., recently banded together to help landowners nationwide find ways to overcome the obstacles to owning the infrastructure to generate wind power.

Consider financing. From Juhl's experience, one of the biggest obstacles to small-scale wind farming is a need to "educate bankers." Unlike most other businesses, he says, wind systems "have a positive cash flow right out of the box. Each year, they produce enough 'crop' to pay the debt, to pay expenses, and to put money in your pocket." With no experience in such investments, the banks were dubious—and reluctant to issue a loan.

Independent owners of renewable-energy systems, which include wind farms, face yet another formidable challenge—negotiating with the local utility to sell their product at a profitable rate. Most small wind farmers lack the leverage and experience to cut good deals, according to speakers at last month's American Wind Energy Association's meeting in Washington, D.C.

Another disadvantage for wind farmers comes from regulatory hurdles. Big central-station power plants typically need to clear these hurdles just once to put 500 MW on line. In contrast, to get the same wattage on line, small-scale wind generators may collectively go through these transactions 200 or more times—and in as many regulatory jurisdictions.

Getting the crop to market

Perhaps the biggest constraint to wind power's growth is getting the crop to market. The greatest technological need for rural wind-power development, Swisher argues, is not better turbines or electronics but "transmission infrastructure." Overcoming this, he says, "is our number one long-term priority."

The only land lost from crop production are plots on which turbines sit and the roads for reaching each turbine for periodic servicing.
Warren Gretz/NREL
Linda Taylor, Minnesota's deputy commissioner of energy, agrees. Moving electricity from rural turbines to energy-gobbling cities, she says, "is the only real sticking point for massive wind development."

It's already constraining development of Buffalo Ridge in southwest Minnesota, where winds blow steadily 320 days a year. Hundreds of turbines there are slated to deliver 450 MW of wind by the end of next year. However, Taylor told Science News, "we could easily get 3,000 or 4,000 MW of wind energy out of that area if we could get the transmission problem resolved." That's enough energy to power some 1 million homes.

R. Nolan Clark, an agricultural engineer and director of the Agriculture Department's Conservation and Production Research Laboratory in Bushland, Texas, sees much the same problem in his part of the country. Since most transmission lines outside of urban areas were installed in the 15 years following World War II, they are, in his words, "old and antiquated."

Sized to carry power needs of the 1950s, they're hard-pressed to satisfy the far more electricity-hungry households throughout even rural America today. As a result, many of these lines can't transmit more power, he says. Indeed, Taylor observes that any additional power fed into such lines in her state can and often does overload them. "This shuts the whole system down," she says.

These limitations highlight a major disconnect between the way power lines are configured and the new needs of small, distributed generators. An analogy with blood circulation illustrates the problem. Big trunk lines, like arteries, branch into successively smaller lines, like capillaries, which feed local areas including individual residences. Operators of distributed-power systems usually have access only to the smaller lines, although their needs require a large artery.

Upgrading rural lines would solve the problems, but at a cost of up to $1 million per mile, Swisher notes. An alternative plan might use wind to generate hydrogen on the farm, and off the grid, and then to pipe hydrogen to cities for use in automotive fuel cells (see box, below).

Electricity for distribution

For now, however, most developers aim to use wind to generate electricity for distribution and sale by commercial utilities. Already, a few big projects are in the works.

A 300-MW wind farm is being constructed along the Oregon-Washington border, where transmission lines can handle the load. This project will become the world's largest wind-harvesting system.

But a Goliath 10 times that size, tentatively named the Rolling Thunder project, is on the drawing board of Jim Dehlsen, founder of the pioneering wind-turbine company Zond, which was bought out by power giant Enron Corp. If built, this South Dakota network of turbines would be "one of the largest energy projects of any kind in the world," points out Brown of the Earth Policy Institute.

Windustry, however, is banking on small farm- and ranch-owned operations becoming the backbone of U.S. wind-power development. To foster that, Daniels says, her group is trying to see if next year's federal Farm Bill can include incentives for the development of farmer-generated commercial power. These might include guaranteeing bank loans, easing access to transmission systems, and facilitating development of wind-electric cooperatives. After all, Daniels argues, "wind is the best new crop to come along in many years."

Moreover, she points out that small-scale wind farming keeps much of its income in the local economy. That's good because wind resources are often strong in areas with poor soils. In such areas, it doesn't take a huge investment to make a big impact. A few Minnesota wind farms "have basically resurrected several small towns," Taylor notes.

And that's just the beginning, Brown says. He anticipates that people—call them wind prospectors—skilled at pinpointing the best places for wind farms could soon assume a role "comparable to that of the petroleum geologist in the old energy economy."

Will rural winds power urban cars?
"Hydrogen is the fuel of choice for the new, highly efficient fuel cell engine that every major automaker is now working on," says Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. With Daimler Chrysler planning to roll out its first emissions-free, fuel cell-powered cars in 2003, he says, "Ford, Toyota, and Honda will probably not be far behind."

What if electricity from wind-powered turbines in North Dakota broke down water into hydrogen, which could be piped 1,600 miles to Chicago vehicles? Bill Leighty, director of the Leighty Foundation in Juneau, Alaska, presented results from a new study that projected the economics of this 2010 scenario.

Last month at the American Wind Energy Association's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., he described a system in which operators in North Dakota would use 4,500 MW of wind-derived electricity to power off-the-shelf electrolyzers. The system would then pressurize the hydrogen gas and feed it into 2-meter pipelines.

The economics of this scenario remains vexing. Its cost would be 30 to 45 percent more per unit of energy than that of building electrical transmission lines to link the Dakota wind farms with the power grid serving Chicago, the new study estimates. However, Leighty points out, breakeven could occur in other scenarios. For example, today's considerable research efforts could lead to fuel cells that are somewhat cheaper to make and operate.

Moreover, he adds, there are potential advantages to a hydrogen pipeline that economists currently find hard to value. For instance, it would—as its natural gas counterparts do—store several days' worth of energy in the system. Therefore, temporarily becalmed turbines wouldn't disrupt downstream operations.

Also, it may prove less expensive to add distributed sources, such as wind turbines, to a pipeline route than to a transmission line.

Finally, there's the potential that pollution taxes in the future could significantly increase the cost of fossil-fuel systems and tilt the economic balance in favor of emissions-free power, including fuel cells. Indeed, many energy analysts argue that the only way the United States could ever meet the projected caps on carbon emissions being discussed under the Kyoto Protocol (SN: 12/20&27/97, p. 388) would be to tax people who spew carbon dioxide from combustion engines and boilers.

Within a decade, Leighty predicts, a technology harnessing wind to create hydrogen for fuel cells could become economically competitive.


References and Sources for this Article


Gibbs, B., and B. Biewald. 2001. Transmitting Windpower from the Dakotas to Chicago: A Preliminary Analysis of a Hydrogen Transmission Scenario. Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) study. February 14.

Further Readings:

2000. Mapping the Transition to a Sustainable Energy Future. Climates of Change Congress. March 19-22. Victoria. Available at  http://www.climatesofchange.com/speakers/dehlsen/.

Raloff, J. 1997. Nations draft Kyoto climate treaty. Science News 152(Dec. 20&27):388.


Lester R. Brown
Earth Policy Institute
1350 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Suite 403
Washington, DC 20036

R. Nolan Clark
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Research Service
P.O. Drawer 10
2300 Experiment Station Road
Bushland, TX 79012-0010

Lisa Daniels
2105 First Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
E-mail:  lisadaniels@windustry.org
Web site:  http://www.Windustry.org/

Greg Jaunich
Navitas Energy
Northern Alernative Energy
3001 Broadway Street, N.E.
Suite 695
Minneapolis, MN 55413

Daniel J. Juhl
DanMar and Associates
520 5th Avenue, S.E.
Pipestone, MN 56164

Florentine Krause
International Project for Sustainable Energy Paths
El Cerrito, CA 94530

Howard A. Learner
Environmental Law & Policy Center
35 East Wacker Drive
Suite 1300
Chicago, IL 60601-2110

Bill Leighty
The Leighty Foundation
Box 020993
Juneau, AK 99802

Larry Mitchell
American Corn Growers Association
P.O. Box 18157
Washington, DC 20036
Web site:  http://www.acga.org/

Randall Swisher
American Wind Energy Association
122 C Street, N.W.
Fourth Floor
Washington, DC 20001

Linda Taylor
Minnesota Department of Commerce
85 7th Place East
Suite 500
St. Paul, MN 55101
Web site:  http://www.nrel.gov/

Nancy Waterman
The Leighty Foundation
Box 020993
Juneau, AK 99802

From Science News, Vol. 160, No. 3, July 21, 2001, p. 45.

Pissing in the wind 09.Dec.2002 14:28

Jack Straw

Check out < http://www.copvcia.com>, a new piece (as of 12/5) by Allen Dale Pfeifer, an experienced energy scientist, who shows how for the most part hydrogen technology requires more energy than it produces. It's essentially pissing in the wind.

I Did Not See This Story, Jack 09.Dec.2002 17:28

Jack Meoff

That link is broke. I visited the site and I did not see
this story. Link please?

As a side note, here are some other power production methods
that require more energy than they produce:

-hydro electric
-wind farms
-internal combustion systems
-geo thermal

Energy can be niether created nor destroyed, only converted
from one form to another. Entropy laws dictate that energy
tends to dissapate into less ordered forms, when given the
opportunity. This means that there will be an energy loss
each time that energy is transfered from one form to
another, generally speaking.

to mr straw 09.Dec.2002 21:19

mr shower

I don't think he said it was pissing in the wind. I think he said it paled in efficiency next to using oil. In a case where you have a surplus of energy running around loose, and you need to convert it to non-polluting stored energy, hydrogen is the bomb. Yeah, your car may only go a third as far, and it may be less energy efficient to produce, but that's certainly not an deadly argument against it. I look at it more as an argument why money grubbing businessmen will continue to exploit the environment and will resist adapting the technology as long as possible. On the other hand, when you factor in pollution, maybe hydrogen really is cheaper than gas. But that's just me.

Was there last i looked 10.Dec.2002 12:58

Jack Straw

I was at From the Wilderness just a few minutes ago, the story was there, at the very top.
Pfieffer was pretty critical of those who sell hydrogen as a panacea to our energy problems, people who included Energy Sec Spencer Abraham, who use it as a way to prop up people's hopes that maybe we're not about to go over a cliff energy-wise.

FTW--Dale Allen Pfeiffer story 10.Dec.2002 23:41

from the wilderness


Much Ado about Nothing -- Whither the Caspian Riches?

Over the Last 24 Months Hoped For Caspian Oil Bonanza Has Vanished
With Each New Well Drilled -- Global Implications Are Frightening
by Dale Allen Pfeiffer, FTW Contributing Editor for Energy